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article imageVictims vent fury at 'devil' New Zealand mosque shooter

By Chris FOLEY (AFP)     Aug 24, 2020 in Crime

Two survivors of the New Zealand mosque massacre abandoned prepared statements to vent their anger directly at gunman Brenton Tarrant in a Christchurch court on Tuesday, drawing applause from fellow victims as they called him a terrorist who deserved to die.

Tarrant -- coming face-to-face with his victims for the first time -- has admitted 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one of terrorism over the attacks at two Christchurch mosques on March 15, 2019.

The 29-year-old -- who is expected to be the first person jailed for life without parole in New Zealand -- has maintained an impassive demeanour throughout the hearing, which began Monday, as the grief-stricken survivors unleashed their anger in an outpouring of emotion.

"I did not see any regrets and shame in the eyes of this terrorist and he does not regret anything, so I decided not to read my impact statement but to show him the pain I suffered," an incensed Mirwais Waziri told judge Cameron Mander on day two of Tarrant's sentencing.

White supremacist Tarrant did not flinch as the gallery applauded when Waziri turned to him and said: "Today you are a terrorist and us as Muslims are not terrorists."

Zuhair Darwish, whose brother died in the attacks, told Tarrant: "You act like a coward and you are a coward. You live like a rat and you deserve that. You're going to die alone, like a virus everybody avoids being with.

2019 Christchurch mosque attacks
2019 Christchurch mosque attacks
, AFP

"The fair punishment for him would be the death penalty. I know under New Zealand law they removed the death penalty for humans, but unfortunately he's not a human, he doesn't deserve to be judged like a human."

A witness whose name has been suppressed by the court appealed to the judge to give Tarrant "the highest punishment that you can. I want you not to let this man see the sun, never, ever.

"This man has to stay in prison forever. As his mother said, something in his head, he is a sick man, he is not a human being."

Tarrant occasionally stroked his chin as speakers referred to him as "a devil" and a "hateful lowlife" who had destroyed lives but made the New Zealand Muslim community stronger.

- 'Gutless action' -

Ambreen Naeem lost both her husband Naeem Rashid and son Talha in the rampage.

Naeem Rashid was hailed as a hero who saved lives when he charged at Tarrant in Christchurch's central Al Noor mosque and partially knocked him down, allowing others to escape while Tarrant stood up and shot him dead.

"Since my husband and son passed away, I've never had a proper, normal sleep. I don't think I ever will," Ambreen Naeem said.

"It is an irreparable damage to me, that is why his punishment should continue forever.

"Every time I think of him, I think of the biggest loser. For myself and my family, I feel victorious."

More than 60 people are to give victim impact statements over the 2019 shootings
More than 60 people are to give victim impact statements over the 2019 shootings
Sanka VIDANAGAMA, AFP

There was no reaction from Tarrant when Noraini Milne, whose son Sayyad was killed, pointed at him and said: "You are already dead to me. Whatever punishment you are going to receive in this world will never be enough."

Mohammad Siddiqui was shot in the arm when "the devil" arrived at Al Noor mosque.

"Yes, I call him a devil because you entered the house of God with evil intentions to kill innocent people. You've killed the dreams of my friends and family with... your gutless action."

Tarrant, a former gym instructor in Australia, has said he wanted to instil fear into those he described as "invaders", including New Zealand's Muslim population.

But Raesha Ismail, who lost her brother Junaid in the attack, said it had only strengthened her beliefs and she was now "more open with practising my faith in the workplace".

More than 60 people are to give victim impact statements before Tarrant, who has dismissed his lawyers, is allowed to address the court.

Judge Cameron Mander expects to deliver his sentence on Thursday.

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